Title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple
“I’d say I never considered myself a great architect. I’m more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares.”
Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a contemporary mystery novel that concerns Bernadette Fox who lives with her husband, Engie, and their daughter, Bee. Bernadette is quite the subject of gossip in the community she lives in, and when she disappears, everyone begins speculating what happened. In order to find her, Bee begins to compile all communications from her mother including emails, letters, and documents to write a novel and figure out the strange genius that is her mother.
Just a very quick note before I get into the actual review, but why does this book title not have a question mark on the end? Things like this probably irk me more than they should, but also, this would have had to go through a lot of people before it was printed, and you’re telling me not one of them raised it!? ANYWAY…
This novel is illustrated through letters, emails, faxes, and then speckled in between, good old-fashioned first person narrative. This style was interesting – I enjoyed it because it gave the reader a really good insight into the different characters’ mindset and also showed more than one perspective on the same event. However, I do feel it left gaps in the plot and I struggled to fully piece together an entire picture of everything which happened.
If I had to sum up this book in a word, it would be “strange” (though as Laura (@whatshotblog) described it, “quirky” may be more apt). It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it – I actually read it rather quickly – but I think I would have preferred something a little more straightforward, with a more linear plot and traditional storytelling. I also found it a little disappointing that, despite the name of the book, and despite the mysterious nature of the blurb, the mystery of where Bernadette went was only actually pondered for about a third of the novel, the rest, simply felt like an anticlimactic build-up.
I really like the tone of the dialogue, and think Semple did a good job of making the characters’ personalities funny and compelling. The best thing about this book was easily the people in it. As for the plot though, I can’t say I loved it. It jumped around a bit too much and as I said before, I was never 100% sure I understood all the details of what was happening. Overall, it was an okay read!